Saturday, July 12, 2014

Improving Online Discussions

In one of my courses this summer, I was assigned to create a tutorial for online instructors on a topic of my choice. I decided to make a tutorial providing advice for how to facilitate online discussions. Discussions can be one of the best parts of an online course, or one of the worst parts, depending on how they are organized, the kinds of prompts the instructors provides, and the way the instructor facilitates the conversation.

I had the following objectives for my presentation:
  • Articulate why online discussions can be a benefit in an online course. 
  • Develop skills necessary for organizing an online discussion: articulating expectations, facilitating vs. dominating the discussion, and considerations for assessment. 
  •  Explain how to prompt students to participate by using engaging questions. 
  • Analyze techniques for facilitating a conversation in an online discussion: grouping, "blindfolding," and using the FY3 strategy for responding to posts. 
I wanted to try and create the tutorial entirely on my iPad, and I was able to do so using the following tools: Haiku Deck for creating slides, Playback, for creating the screencast, and a YouTube playlist for presenting the video segments.

The tutorial is a five-segment video that I put into a playlist, so one video segment automatically leads into the next. Check it out!

A few notes about the production of this tutorial...

  • As I mentioned above, I decided that I wanted to try and create the tutorial entirely on my iPad, if possible. I began by writing a simple outline of the key topics for my presentation--just a list in the Notes app. (I ended up using this as my "script," referring to it on my iPhone in my lap as needed while I recorded the screencast.) 
  • I created the slides I would need for this presentation in Haiku Deck. I love Haiku Deck for the emphasis on beautiful graphics and minimal text on the slides. (I have reviewed Haiku Deck previously on my blog.) Haiku Deck will allow you to upload your own images (I did this for some slides), but it also allows you to search Flickr for Creative Commons licensed images that you can use to illustrate your presentation. 
  • For the actual screencast, I used an app I recently became familiar with called Playback. It is very easy to use, and I am satisfied with the result. It has tools that allow you to highlight text, draw/write freehand on your slides, and included a headshot in the corner for better social presence in your presentation. The free version will let you get a sense of whether or not this app will work well for you, but I decided to pay the $2.99 for the full version, which allows you to use more slides and create longer presentations. 
  • I decided to upload my tutorial to YouTube in sections, because is was longer than 7-8 minutes all together. I find that that is often the limit for my own attention span for online lectures; I thought it might be helpful for students to be able to break up their viewing into shorter segments, if needed. YouTube allows you to create a playlist of your videos, however, and using the playlist feature will start the next video in the sequence upon completion of the first. In effect, this means students can watch the whole video all in one shot if they like.

It was very beneficial for me to think through the process of creating a video tutorial this way. I am satisfied with the way it turned out, but I realized after I began recording the screencast that the way I had aligned the text on my slides in HaikuDeck meant that my headshot in the corner covered up the text in Playback. This meant I had to keep turning the camera on and off while recording. Next time, if I use this same workflow, I will be more careful about keeping text out of the upper right-hand corner of the slide, because I can't move my face from that location.

I know I'll be creating more of these tutorials in the future! I think that the social presence of having video of the presenter makes a big difference for the person watching them--much more engaging. The workflow on my iPad was easy enough to use, and now that I know I can create these kinds of tutorials on-the-go, I'm much more likely to develop materials when and where I need to, instead of holing up in my office--my default hideout for this task!

No comments:

Post a Comment